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ralph lauren in china

Ralph Lauren’s resonance with China’s 2023 online trends

Ralph Lauren Corporation, the American accessible luxury brand renowned for its polo shirts, entered the Chinese market in 2011, making it a relatively late entrant compared to brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. The company achieve a remarkable success among local consumers and, in 2023 Q3, its sales experienced a remarkable surge of over 30% in reported US dollars.

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Ralph Lauren’s marketing strategy in China

Ralph Lauren in China caters to a diverse consumer base, including middle-income individuals, affluent customers, and celebrities, offering a wide range of clothing styles from relatively accessible options to premium high-end fashion.

In particular, Ralph Lauren polo shirts have garnered a wide recognition in the last few years. While there was once a perception in China associating them with a somewhat rustic and outdated style, polo shirts have now gained popularity, especially among Gen Z and celebrities, as they strike a perfect balance between formal and informal attire.

1. Tapping into lower tier cities

Ralph Lauren in China has embarked on an ambitious journey to solidify its presence through a meticulously planned retail expansion strategy. Presently boasting four flagship stores in the country (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Hong Kong), the brand envisions an impressive leap forward, with plans to unveil over 30 new stores across major and smaller cities across China. Chua Shin Hwee, the regional CEO, emphasizes the brand’s dedication to reaching both major metropolises and smaller cities, reflecting a comprehensive approach to capture diverse consumer segments.

2. Offline retail experience: brick-and-mortar stores as narrative hubs

Ralph Lauren is redefining the role of brick-and-mortar establishments in China by seamlessly integrating online and offline elements, exemplified by innovative retail experiences such as the World of Ralph Lauren in Sanlitun, Beijing.

Launched in April 2021 as part of the new China retail strategy, this flagship store in Beijing signifies Ralph Lauren’s commitment to seamlessly blending the digital and physical realms. It incorporates cutting-edge features such as virtual try-ons, a QR code-based in-store treasure hunt, and Augmented Reality photo shooting. Additionally, the store introduced the first Ralph’s Coffee in China, redefining the traditional shopping experience.

The innovative approach extends beyond Beijing with the introduction of a bar in Chengdu’s Double RL store. This move exemplifies the US luxury brand’s endeavor to transcend traditional retail boundaries, providing American hospitality and cuisine. with signature dishes and cocktails inspired by the brand’s iconic worldwide restaurants. These strategic additions not only enhance the in-store customer experience but also extend the Ralph Lauren lifestyle beyond the realm of fashion.

3. Digital-first mindset: navigating the digital landscape

In tandem with its offline endeavors, Ralph Lauren in China strategically navigates the digital landscape. Leveraging e-commerce giants like Tmall and JD, along with the ubiquitous WeChat Mini-programs, the brand adapts to the dynamic preferences of Chinese consumers. Beyond the mainstream platforms, Ralph Lauren actively collaborates with local services such as WeCom and live-streaming platforms, underscoring its commitment to consumer engagement and acquisition in the rapidly evolving Chinese retail space.

This strategic approach prioritizes consumers, providing an elevated and immersive brand experience through innovative digital strategies. The utilization of digital tools is not merely transactional; it extends to creating a holistic brand journey that resonates with the tech-savvy Chinese audience.

4. Strategic branding: collaborations and celebrity endorsements

Ralph Lauren’s foray into strategic collaborations and celebrity endorsements stands as a testament to its proactive approach in elevating brand awareness. The partnership with the famous KOL Tao Liang, popularly known as Mr. Bags, in 2023, showcased the brand’s ability to align with influential figures in China. This collaboration resulted in the creation of exclusive Polo ID shoulder bags, catering specifically to the Chinese market. Such ventures not only highlight the brand’s adaptability but also reinforce its commitment to offering unique and localized products that resonate with the diverse Chinese audience.

Mr Bags x Ralph Lauren Polo ID bag
Source: Xiaohongshu, Mr. Bags carrying three styles of the Ralph Lauren Polo ID bag exclusive to China

Ralph Lauren in China benefitting from 2023 fashion trends

As luxury Chinese consumers steer away from overtly prominent large logos that turn wearers into “walking billboards”, quiet luxury brands such as Ralph Lauren are bound to thrive. Beyond this preference in stealth and inconspicuous luxury, there are three 2023 fashion trends in China that perfectly aligned with Ralph Lauren aesthetics: the old-money style (老钱风) and the Maillard style (美拉德).

Ralph Lauren’s timeless elegance: exploring old-money style and enduring sophistication

Embodying the timeless elegance of “Old Money” aesthetics, characterized by its preppy designs and enduring appeal, individuals aligned with this style ethos prioritize a subtle, understated approach reflective of generational wealth. In contrast to the ostentatious displays of “New Money,” they cherish enduring style over fleeting trends, emphasizing their roots in heritage and tradition. There are 124 thousand posts related to “Old Money” on Xiaohongshu, illustrating the popularity of such trend.

Ralph Lauren seamlessly embodies the essence of the “old-money style.” The brand’s influence is evident in its exquisitely crafted pieces, emphasizing high-quality materials and meticulous attention to detail. With tailored fits, subtle color palettes, and understated accessories, Ralph Lauren in China radiates an understated yet sophisticated aesthetic that transcends trends. Offering classic items like oxford shirts and tweed blazers, the brand is a central figure in promoting the enduring charm of old-fashioned style in China’s contemporary fashion scene.

Ralph lauren in china old money style
Source: Xiaohongshu, Old money style outfit featuring RL pieces

Trending in tones: Ralph Lauren and the Maillard palette

The “Maillard style,” inspired by the Maillard reaction, showcases rich browns and ochres. In August 2023, it surged by 28,900% on Xiaohongshu and gained 6 billion views on Douyin. Notably, Ralph Lauren’s brand colors align seamlessly with the Maillard trend, prominently appearing in Maillard outfits on Xiaohongshu. Ralph Lauren’s khaki, camel, and brown knitted series, celebrated by celebrities, has achieved out-of-stock status, reflecting its strong connection to this trend.

Ralph lauren in china Maillard style
Source: Xiaohongshu, maillard style outfit featuring Ralph Lauren pieces

Ralph Lauren in China: surfing new fashion trends

  • Ralph Lauren’s emphasis on timeless elegance and quality craftsmanship resonates with Chinese consumers, offering enduring styles and classic items in the competitive luxury market.
  • Ralph Lauren’s meticulous expansion strategy targets both major cities and smaller urban areas, ensuring a comprehensive market reach.
  • The brand’s innovative retail experiences, integrating digital and physical elements, create an engaging and immersive shopping environment.
  • Strategic collaborations with influential figures like Mr. Bags enhance brand awareness and create exclusive products, showcasing adaptability to local preferences.
  • Ralph Lauren’s success in China stems from aligning with local fashion trends, embracing styles like “Old Money” and the popular Maillard palette.